Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/61

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39
THE WICKET-KEEPER.

A wicket-keeper cannot too much concentrate his attention on the ball. His vigilance and alertness must never be relaxed for a moment, otherwise he may let unnecessary byes or miss an important catch.

In all doubtful cases he should knock off the bails and appeal, but he must on no account do this for show or to "hustle" (as it is termed) the umpire. This is extremely bad form, and by no means profitable. Umpires do not like being teased. Besides, appeals that are not bona fide are directly opposed to the spirit in which cricket should be played. The ball is not often taken cleanly on the leg-side, but when it is, it should be swept into the wicket at once, as most batsmen frequently drag their foot or jump about in playing to leg. It is not necessary to appeal every time the bails are knocked off. It is difficult to take leg-balls, so a young wicket-keeper is advised to pay more attention in his early practice to those that come over the wicket or slightly to the off.

With a view to run-outs a wicket-keeper will do well to practise taking all manner of returns, good, bad, and indifferent, long-hops, "yorkers," and half-volleys, and these under all conditions and from all directions. Mr MacGregor has a marvellous power of gathering the wildest returns and getting the ball into the wicket. His success in this is partly due to his extreme coolness, partly to his never regarding a return as impossible to take. The wicket-keeper ought to be ready to run after balls played away to bye when he can thus save a run, but he should never leave his wicket unless a run can be saved. He should have wide returns to backers-up. It should be remembered that "on the line" is out. A batsman to be in must have some part of his person or bat grounded within the crease. No part of the wicket-keeper's body must be in front of the wicket until the ball is hit by the batsman or has passed the wicket. Therefore never take the ball in front of the stumps, however slow it is in coming.

Finally, never fret over a few failures. Persevere and practise wisely and diligently—in games if possible; if at nets, get some one to bat. Never practise carelessly. Avoid practising on bad wickets, except very occasionally. Take care of the hands, and spare them when bruised or tender. If wicket-keeping is a hard and rather thankless job, it has great charm for the skilled, and a good wicket-keeper is always extremely welcome on any side.